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Journal Archives

Elizabeth Warren Challenges Clinton, Sanders to Prosecute Corporate Crime Better Than Obama

Three days before the Iowa caucuses, Senator Elizabeth Warren has released what might have been her closing argument had she been a candidate in the presidential race.

It’s a thorough indictment of a rigged system in Washington that allows corporate criminals to go free while those without the same power and influence get severely punished.

The report – a 12-page booklet entitled Rigged Justice: How Weak Enforcement Lets Corporate Offenders Off Easy — cites 20 well-documented civil and criminal cases from 2015 “in which the federal government failed to require meaningful accountability.”

Of the 20 cases, which span Wall Street, the auto industry, pharmaceuticals, natural resources, and more, only one resulted in any convictions to executives, and that was for a misdemeanor — in the Upper Big Branch mine case, where 29 Americans died.



Elizabeth Warren: One Way to Rebuild Our Institutions


WASHINGTON — WHILE presidential candidates from both parties feverishly pitch their legislative agendas, voters should also consider what presidents can do without Congress. Agency rules, executive actions and decisions about how vigorously to enforce certain laws will have an impact on every American, without a single new bill introduced in Congress.

The Obama administration has a substantial track record on agency rules and executive actions. It has used these tools to protect retirement savings, expand overtime pay, prohibit discrimination against L.G.B.T. employees who work for the government and federal contractors, and rein in carbon pollution. These accomplishments matter.

Whether the next president will build on them, or reverse them, is a central issue in the 2016 election. But the administration’s record on enforcement falls short — and federal enforcement of laws that already exist has received far too little attention on the campaign trail.

I just released a report examining 20 of the worst federal enforcement failures in 2015. Its conclusion: “Corporate criminals routinely escape meaningful prosecution for their misconduct.”

In a single year, in case after case, across many sectors of the economy, federal agencies caught big companies breaking the law — defrauding taxpayers, covering up deadly safety problems, even precipitating the financial collapse in 2008 — and let them off the hook with barely a slap on the wrist. Often, companies paid meager fines, which some will try to write off as a tax deduction.



HIV becoming resistant to key drug, study finds

Strains of the HIV virus are becoming resistant to an antiretroviral drug commonly used to prevent and fight it, research has suggested.

HIV was resistant to the drug Tenofovir in 60% of cases in several African countries according to the study, covering the period from 1998 to 2015.

The research, led by University College London, looked at around 2,000 HIV patients worldwide.

Lead author Dr Ravi Gupta said the results were "extremely concerning".


F-35 software overrun with bugs, DoD testing chief warns

The F-35's flight plan appears to have delays written all over it. A previously unreleased memo from Michael Gilmore, the Department of Defense's director for Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E), details a list of problems that will likely hold up the testing of the final configuration of the aircraft—and will mean the "Block 2B" aircraft now being delivered to the Marine Corps soon will continue to be full of software bugs for years to come. But officials with the F-35's Joint Program Office (JPO) have downplayed the seriousness of Gilmore's concerns, with one military member of the office taking to the Facebook page of a defense publication to call the memo "whining."

The concerns center largely on testing of software components—many of which the JPO has deferred to keep the program close to its schedule, and which JPO leadership has suggested would be a waste of time and money to fix now—since they are in interim releases of the F-35's systems and an entirely new set of software will be completed for the final version of the F-35. But with the Marine Corps and Air Force scheduled to fly as many as five F-35A and F-35B aircraft at the Farnborough International Air Show this summer, and production of the aircraft ramping up, so much uncertainty about the software could lead to even more complications down the road—particularly as weapons systems are added to the aircraft.

"The current 'official schedule' to complete full development and testing of all Block 3F capabilities by 31 July 31, 2017 is not realistic," Gilmore wrote in the memo dated from December, which was first obtained by Aviation Week. Making that schedule would require dropping "a significant number of currently planned test points, tripling the rate at which weapons delivery events have historically been conducted, and deferring resolution of significant operational deficiencies to Block 4"—a software upgrade the aircraft won't see until at least 2021.

Of particular concern to Gilmore was the F-35's "Autonomic Logistics Information System" (ALIS), which he said "continues to struggle in development with deferred requirements, late and incomplete deliveries, high manpower requirements, multiple deficiencies requiring work-arounds, and a complex architecture with likely (but largely untested) cyber deficiencies." ALIS is a system that spans from the aircraft itself to the entire supply chain for its maintenance and repair parts, and includes portable computing gear required to check if the right parts are installed properly before flight. The software is still a work in progress, and testing of potential security vulnerabilities—which could potentially keep aircraft from being able to take off—has largely been deferred for now while Lockheed Martin and the JPO focus on getting the software to actually work as intended.


Alabama schools now allowed to use non-certified teachers

Someone who is not a certified teacher can now teach your children in Alabama.

The State Board of Education approved a new category of educators called adjunct teachers.

The board says it is a way to solve the teacher shortage in Alabama for certain subjects.

An adjunct teacher is someone who has worked in a career field other than education, will work part time under a licensed teacher and has a high school diploma or equivalent.

Katy Bryan is a mother of two elementary school kids in Huntsville. In theory, under the new resolution, her kids could soon be taught by someone who does not have a state teaching certification. Bryan has some concerns with the idea.


How about paying them well, giving them job security and not denigrating them?

Toon: "Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before"

People are comfortable with the idea of a Sanders Presidency- Other candidates don't fare so well

By Scott Clement January 28 at 7:48 AM

Nearly 7 in 10 Americans say the idea of Donald Trump becoming president makes them anxious, according to a new Washington-Post-ABC News poll that is the latest to reinforce the fact that the GOP front-runner faces clear obstacles to broadening his appeal in a general election.

The Post-ABC poll finds 69 percent of Americans feel anxious about of a Trump presidency, while 3 in 10 are comfortable with the idea -- both similar to a Post-ABC poll last month.

Few of the top presidential contenders inspire great comfort with the public at-large. Nearly half say they feel anxious about Ted Cruz as president (49 percent), while 48 percent say the same of Marco Rubio.

Among Democratic hopefuls, 51 percent of Americans say they are anxious about Hillary Clinton becoming president, while 43 percent are similarly concerned about Bernie Sanders in the White House. Sanders is the only candidate tested in the poll for whom a plurality -- 50 percent -- says they feel comfortable with as president. (Expect the Sanders campaign to push this number as they make their case that the democratic socialist is electable.)


Paul Krugman Un-ironically Anoints Himself Arbiter of “Seriousness”:Only Clinton Supporters Eligible

For years, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has repeatedly complained about the DC orthodoxy-enforcing tactic of labelling only those who subscribe to Washington pieties as “Very Serious People,” or “VSPs.” It’s a term Krugman borrowed (with credit) from the liberal blogger Atrios, who first coined it to illustrate how Iraq War opponents were instantly marginalized in establishment discourse and only war advocates are deemed to be Serious. Krugman mockingly uses it so often that The New York Times created a special tag for the term. The primary purpose of the “VSP” tactic is to malign anyone who dissents from DC establishment pieties as non-Serious or un-Serious, thus demeaning them as someone who can (and should) be ignored as residing on the fringe, unworthy of engagement or a real platform regardless of the merits of their position.

Yesterday, one of the purest and most noxious examples of this tactic was invoked — by Paul Krugman. The long-time Clinton defender announced that all Serious policy experts “lean Hillary”; he even used the term “serious” unironically to advance his claim:

Meanwhile, the Sanders skepticism of the wonks continues: Paul Starr lays out the case. As far as I can tell, every serious progressive policy expert on either health care or financial reform who has weighed in on the primary seems to lean Hillary.

Let’s repeat that: “every serious progressive policy expert on either health care or financial reform who has weighed in on the primary seems to lean Hillary.”

The economist Dean Baker – previously cited as a financial reform and economic policy expert by Krugman but who now most assuredly does not “lean Hillary” – quickly reacted to his formal exclusion by Krugman from the Club of Seriousness:

Paul Krugman Revokes Credentials of Those Who Don’t Support Clinton . . .

Oh well, so much for those of us backing or leaning towards Sanders. I guess we just have to turn to that old Washington saying, “better right than expert.” In other words, it’s better to rely on people who have a track record of being right than the people who have the best credentials.



Bernie Sanders fires against Clinton

Bernie Sanders critiqued fellow Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during a rally in Mason City, chastising her for fundraising instead of campaigning in Iowa on Wednesday night.

"My opponent is not in Iowa tonight. She is raising money from a Philadelphia investment firm," Sanders said. "Frankly, I would rather be here with you."

At the Music Man Square, Sanders fired against Clinton, saying that her campaign is "in trouble" as his poll numbers rise before the Iowa caucus Monday. The latest Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll shows Clinton and Sanders virtually tied, with Clinton slightly leading. A recent Quinnipiac poll shows Sanders 4 points ahead.

“Needless to say, our opponents are not all that enthusiastic about that reality,” Sanders said, about potentially winning the Iowa caucus. “One of the things they say, 'Bernie Sanders, nice guy, interesting ideas, but he just could not win a general election.'”



Thursday Bernie Group Toons

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